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What is Continuous Deployment?

What is Continuous Deployment?

Continuous Deployment is the process of automatically deploying software updates to the production environment, once code is checked into the software repository by development. This relies upon multiple layers of automation to perform software testing and deploy to production.

If all tests have been passed and every code update is release ready, pushing updates into production automatically maximizes the release velocity with which value is provided to users, and minimizes the gaps of time during which applications are not incrementally improving. Adopting continuous deployment also provides more rapid feedback from users on new functionality, allowing organizations to make better informed decisions.

Continuous Deployment vs. Continuous Delivery

Continuous Deployment is related to the concept of Continuous Delivery, but takes it one step further: while Continuous Delivery creates a situation where software is always ready to be deployed into production, Continuous Deployment automates that final deployment step.

Advantages of Continuous Deployment

While there are many benefits of adopting continuous deployment into your software development lifecycle, here are some key advantages that developers see from the approach:

  • Automation. The ability to automate repetitive and cumbersome tasks create developmental efficiencies that allow teams to focus more on product innovation and delivery rather than spending time doing manual QA and testing for every production shipment.
  • Scale. A frictionless deployment cycle is critical to delivering software in the enterprise. Continuous deployment enables teams to update, maintain, and innovate software in real-time without the need for intentional maintenance hours or scheduled downtime, which uplevels the customer experience for end-users and reduces stress and burnout for developers.
  • Security. Ensure compliance and regulatory policies are always updated by embedding the latest security protocols and policies into every software deployment, thus reducing fault or risk in the production stages.
  • Uptime. Continuous delivery enables teams to perpetually update source code and any other dependencies within the software. These smaller code changes create improvements in reliability for software and reduce the possibility of service or application failures.

Both Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment are strongly associated with DevOps best practices. In order to reach full DevOps maturity and maximize the speed and quality of software delivery with automation, you need to have the components of a full Continuous Delivery pipeline in place. However, full DevOps practices don’t necessarily require using Continuous Deployment.

Continuous Deployment vs. Continuous Integration

Continuous Deployment is an extension of Continuous Integration (CI), and relies on CI to validate that checked-in code is of high enough quality to be production-ready. CI performs automated testing of code after every check-in, ensuring that the entire software codebase works properly with the newly committed code. These unit, build, and integration tests are what validate that the update is safe for deployment, and can proceed through the additional phases of automation that culminate in deployment to production.

Obviously, CI by itself doesn’t get you all the way to Continuous Deployment. Frequently, CI tools like Jenkins or TeamCity will be used together with Application Release Automation tools like Automic, Serena, or XebiaLabs that handle the actual deployment automation.

How to Get More Out of Continuous Deployment

Because Continuous Deployment is a fully automated process extended from code check-in to pushing code to the production environment, it’s vital to have triggers for manual intervention should anything go wrong. Connecting an incident management system like PagerDuty to continuous deployment tools provides visibility into any errors that may take place at any point in the pipeline. It also allows you to make sure the proper people are notified with the right context to rapidly solve the issue – software development if code errors are found, infrastructure managers if the staging environment or production system are configured improperly, etc.
By hooking up your deployment data to PagerDuty, you can streamline operational responsibilities with the right tools and information to rapidly triage, resolve, and learn from issues when they arise. Try it out now for yourself with a free 14-day trial.